PAPA Lab São Paulo Brazil 7 - 29 November 2009


Hosted by freeDimensional New York. The correspondents were members of the Fotomix group: Zé Barretta, Giovana Pasquini (Jô), Ines Correa, Marcelo Ferrelli, Sylvia Sanchez, Felipe Denuzzo, Flávio Sampaio and Luciana Camargo (Luh). With the support of Mondriaan Fund.


São Paulo is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It is doing very well economically. Every block of four one- or two-storey houses that falls into the hands of building contractors is transformed into another skinny block of flats. 'Verticalisation', they call that here. you see helicopters in the air flying from one apartment building to another, avoiding the neverending traffic jam. São Paulo is educating people through well designed public spaces. you find SESCs (social commercial services) - spaces, where people can meet, read, surf the net, eat and sleep - everywhere in the city. There is a system called Serviço Social da Industria that allows anybody to get a free, fourmonth training to become a hairdresser or a manicurist, or learn how to be a copywriter for the advertising industry. Speed is not the same as haste. We saw old couples walking in love like in their teens and we saw people taking time to kiss goodbye passionately before they rush off to work. But most important of all is the original and informal way the authorities and the average Brazilian find 'ways to make things easier'. There is a special word for that: jeitinho, which has not only a negative connotation of corruption, or taking advantage of someone, but also positive meanings, such as ingenuity, creativity, solidarity and conciliation. To stress the Brazilians' historical predisposition to informality, where the rest of the world says 'cool' when something is very special indeed, they use the word legão, which means both 'legal' and 'cool'.


Apartment blocks can be as skinny as the base of a single house. But more often the new skyscrapers take up a plot occupied by four houses. The view of the city is taken from Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia sports and cultural centre. The building is an artwork in itself, as this window indicates.
26 Nov 2009, Lino Hellings

Despedida (Farewell)

On Avenida Paulista, a cyclist in a suit shelters under a kiosk canopy, waiting for the pedestrian traffic lights to change so he can cross the road. The couple, also protected under the awning, takes time for a kiss goodbye. Speed ≠ haste. The rain does not stop people from following their routine.
21 Nov 2009, Felipe Denuzzo

Educating people

At Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia sports and cultural centre you can eat good food, read, play games or take a nap. Office clerks, car mechanics, elderly people, mothers with small children and homeless people mingle here peacefully.
26 Nov 2009, Lino Hellings

How long?

When we see a house like this, we always think: how long will it resist being bulldozed by the construction workers?
06 Apr 26 Nov 2009, Ines Correa